The Cardiff City Stadium is braced for a mouthwatering match-up between Wales and Austria, with both nations vying to reach the winter World Cup. Neither quite managed to top their respective groups in Europe’s qualifiers, so their avenue to Qatar will be via the play-offs, starting with the semi-finals on Thursday.
The Dragons were drawn in a difficult Group E that included Belgium — who naturally finished first — and the Czech Republic, but they performed with merit, finishing as runners-up and losing just the single game, so they will know they have the capacity to produce when Austria visit the Welsh capital later this week.
Franco Foda’s men flattered to deceive in Group F, finishing fourth below Denmark, Scotland and Israel, but they enter the play-offs as one of the best two Nations League group winners outside the top two of their respective qualifying group. Das Team will have to up the ante if they are to advance to the play-off final.
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Wales vs Austria: Match Stats
At the last major international tournament in which both Wales and Austria competed (Euro 2020) Gareth Bale created more big chances than any other player (5), and the Dragons’ record goalscorer will be key when it comes to final third involvement later this week. The 32-year-old hasn’t had much by way of minutes for Real Madrid this season, as you’d probably expect from a player who has fallen significantly down the pecking order, but when he dons his national colours and a rendition of ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ filters through the crowd, he usually turns up.
02 Sep 2017 – Wales 1-0 Austria – World Cup qualifying
06 Oct 2016 – Austria 2-2 Wales – World Cup qualifying
06 Feb 2013 – Wales 2-1 Austria – International Friendly
30 Mar 2005 – Austria 1-0 Wales – World Cup qualifying
26 Mar 2005 – Wales 0-2 Austria – World Cup qualifying
These two nations actually met in Group D of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers in Europe. Wales got the better of Austria overall, winning 1-0 on home soil and drawing 2-2 away, but that was not enough to secure the nation a ticket to the previous tournament. That 1-0 win at the Cardiff City Stadium came through Ben Woodburn’s late finish, and Rob Page could certainly do with another result like that.